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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump"

John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election

Westlake Legal Group jy John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election year Trump The Blog President John Yoo ingraham impeachment high crimes Election

It’s strange to see a man of the right, which prides itself on following the constitutional text, divining a time constraint on impeachment that isn’t actually in the document. It’s not as if the Framers were unwilling to specify any limits on the impeachment power; it’s famously restricted to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Nor has Yoo’s view been the view traditionally taken by Congress. Various politicos pointed out last night on Twitter after this bit aired on Fox that Andrew Johnson was impeached in February of a presidential election year. Mitch McConnell had precedent to point to when he roadblocked Merrick Garland’s confirmation on grounds that it was an election year and therefore voters should decide which party gets to fill Scalia’s seat. Yoo doesn’t even have that.

Besides, the nature of the impeachment process means that the will of the electorate will naturally be priced into the calculations made by Congress. For reasons of sheer self-preservation, the House won’t proceed with an impeachment which it has reason to believe would be strongly opposed by American voters. They have to face those voters every 24 months, after all. That’s been Pelosi’s fear all along — that House Democrats would indulge their id by impeaching Trump for flimsy reasons, Senate Republicans would swat them down during a trial, and then a voter backlash to Democratic overreach would lead to Trump being reelected to a second term and the House returned to Republican hands. If the people believe that the House has unfairly usurped their sovereign role in deciding who should lead the executive branch, they’ll deal with them accordingly. Soon.

It’s also easy to imagine worst-case scenarios in which a president would need to be removed immediately for the good of the country. Imagine that Rachel Maddow’s darkest Russiagate fantasy about Trump being a Kremlin-controlled asset had turned out to be true but somehow we didn’t discover it until January 2020. Should Americans be obliged to sit back and let the Kremlin steer U.S. policy for 10 months until the election because it’s somehow “too late” to impeach? Absurd.

The weirdest part of Yoo going this route is that there are much stronger arguments available for defeating an attempt to remove Trump from office. The GOP’s eventually going to settle on the ol’ “bad but not impeachable” defense, which in a sense is foolproof. Because “high crimes and misdemeanors” is vague, virtually anything short of outright treason can be said to have failed to clear the bar. Smart Republicans like Rob Portman and Lamar Alexander are already maneuvering towards that position:

Tim Miller has a piece out today arguing why “bad but not impeachable” is wrong in this case but his logic works even better to counter Yoo’s argument: You can’t leave it to an election to settle whether the president’s committed an impeachable offense if the offense might affect the election itself. If Trump really was withholding desperately needed military aid from Ukraine until they coughed up dirt on the Democratic frontrunner, Ukrainian leaders might have concluded they had no choice but to provide it. Maybe that would have meant a diligent investigation of Burisma, or maybe it would have meant fabricating something whole cloth to damage Biden and satisfy Trump. If American voters had chosen next fall between Trump and Biden based in part on a fake Biden scandal which Trump himself had helped engineer, in what universe would that be a fair referendum on whether Trump had done something impeachable? Again, it’s absurd.

The House gets to impeach when it likes and voters get to whack them hard for it if they agree with the president that this was a “witch hunt.” There’s no time limit and there shouldn’t be.

The post John Yoo: The Framers never would have wanted to see impeachment happen within a year of a presidential election appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump: You know, the PKK is actually worse than ISIS is

Westlake Legal Group t-16 Trump: You know, the PKK is actually worse than ISIS is turkish Turkey Trump The Blog Syria pkk Kurds ISIS

I predicted a week ago that he would eventually start mouthing Turkish propaganda rather than admit that he’d made a mistake in bowing to Erdogan’s threat to invade northern Syria. He can’t acknowledge error even in small matters; he surely wasn’t about to cop to a major blunder which even cronies like Lindsey Graham were claiming would lead to the rebirth of ISIS. He’d lunge at any spin available to him that might conceivably justify his decision, even if it came from Turkish fascists.

But I thought he’d limit himself to Turkish claims about how the invasion was going — few Kurdish casualties, no civilians hurt, no ISIS prisoners escaped, and so on. Never did I expect him to adopt Erdogan’s own view of who the real threat in Syria is.

Somehow this is going to end with Trump bombing the Kurds at Turkey’s behest, isn’t it?

TRT is a Turkish media outlet, which is no coincidence. Only a Turk would make the claim that the PKK is more of a terrorist menace than ISIS is. For an American to make it, particularly a president whose view of foreign policy is “America First,” is the purest insanity, to the point where I’d be surprised if a single person in the United States’s vast intelligence bureaucracy agrees. In no sphere of reality is the PKK a bigger threat *to America* than ISIS is; to an America First-er, that should settle the question of which outfit is “worse.” I’d bet cash money that Trump got this ridiculous talking point directly from Erdogan himself in conversation and chose to stupidly repeat it because, as I say, he’ll grasp at anything to justify his stand-down order in northern Syria retroactively. “The PKK is worse than ISIS. So, by letting Turkey massacre the Kurds, we’re actually fighting terrorism.”

As I’m writing this, news is breaking that the House has voted to condemn Trump’s Syria withdrawal — on a strongly bipartisan vote, 354-60.

The resolution states Congress’ opposition to the troop pullback and says Turkey should cease its military action in Syria. And the measure says the White House should present a plan for an “enduring defeat” of the Islamic State group…

The House debate was extraordinary for the intensity of lawmakers’ opinions.

Republicans called the troop withdrawal “disastrous” and a “catastrophe.” Democrats criticized Trump directly, with Rep. Seth Moulton saying Trump “has taken the side of dictators and butchers.”

Mitch McConnell also went out of his way to express his “gratitude” to the same Kurds who are, allegedly, worse than ISIS. Meanwhile, America’s diplomatic apparatus is busytrying to pressure Erdogan to back off in Syria, raising the question again of who, exactly, they think they work for:

Trump couldn’t have been clearer in the Oval Office this afternoon that he doesn’t care who ends up fighting in Syria — Turkey, the Kurds, Assad, Russia, the more the merrier. Per his point about the PKK and ISIS, one can only conclude at this point that he’s *rooting* for Erdogan to wipe out the Kurds. What is he sending Pence and Pompeo to Turkey tonight to negotiate, then? Whether the Turks want U.S. air support as they push further into Kurdish territory?

We’re not quite at that point yet. Instead the WSJ is reporting that the U.S. has started bombing its own anti-ISIS facilities in Syria as a consequence of Trump’s accession to Erdogan:

On Wednesday, the U.S, military carried out airstrikes to destroy the Syrian headquarters of the American campaign to destroy Islamic State after rapidly pulling Americans from the base, current and former U.S. officials said.

The decision to destroy the base, which included warehouses used to train-and-equip the Kurdish-led fighters, came after Turkish-backed forces moved on the facility on Tuesday.

As the Turkish-backed forced closed in, the U.S. used Apache helicopters and F-15 jet fighters to intimidate the fighters and deter them from getting closer to the base where Americans were still stationed, U.S. officials said.

Here’s Lindsey Graham this afternoon sounding unhappy, which doesn’t matter to anyone, least of all Trump. Graham will compartmentalize this just like all of his other Trump foreign-policy disappointments, certainly until he’s reelected next fall.

The post Trump: You know, the PKK is actually worse than ISIS is appeared first on Hot Air.

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Erdogan says he won’t meet with visiting Pence and Pompeo — before changing his mind

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“I’m not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts. When Trump comes here, I’ll be talking,” sniffed Erdogan when asked by reporters about Pence’s and Pompeo’s impending visit. “Great news if you still wanted endless wars but with more geopolitical humiliation,” mused Dan Foster about the news.

The Sultan has since thought better of his refusal to meet with Pence and Pompeo, probably figuring that the administration will tolerate only so much embarrassment at Turkey’s hands before reconsidering the entire alliance. Besides, there are other ways to embarrass the U.S. that don’t involve personally humiliating the vice president and the secretary of state. One is to have Erdogan loudly proclaim that he might snub Trump himself by declining to visit the White House as scheduled next month. Another is to ignore U.S. demands for a ceasefire in northern Syria and to reject America’s invitation to act as a mediator between Turkey and the Kurds. The politic thing to do is to receive Pence and Pompeo warmly, listen attentively, then forget everything they’ve said the moment they’ve left. It sounds like that’s what Erdogan will do.

As tends to happen in the Trump administration, the president’s foreign policy and the foreign policy of literally everyone who works for him are two different things. Everyone from Pence on down sympathizes with the Kurds’ plight and is pushing hard for a ceasefire before outright ethnic cleansing begins in earnest. Trump? Trump is Trump:

“There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” Even his most devoted sycophants are struggling to frame their disgust in polite terms:

Yeah, why the hell would you send Pence and Pompeo to try to negotiate a ceasefire while you’re on TV broadcasting to the world that you don’t care what happens to the Kurds or anyone else? What sort of pressure is Erdogan supposed to feel from that? For that matter, why send Pence and Pompeo at all? The time to send them on an emergency visit to Turkey was when Erdogan first told Trump that he was planning to invade northern Syria, not 10 days later when Turkish troops are advancing:

How did we end up here? According to White House aides who spoke to the Times, Trump was underprepared for his call with Erdogan on October 6. When the Turkish leader threatened to invade northern Syria at long last to push the Kurds back, Trump didn’t think to threaten him back with U.S. countermeasures like sanctions. Or at least, that’s the charitable spin; the less charitable read would be that Trump really, truly has no problem with the Turks pulverizing America’s allies in the war against ISIS, a point he’s now made repeatedly in public, and only agreed to sanctions after the fact because of the harsh backlash he’s received even from Republicans. Threatening Erdogan with sanctions on the call might not even have mattered: The Sultan knows Trump is a paper tiger.

The Turkish president probably anticipated U.S. sanctions, Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of the new book Erdogan’s Empire, told me. But Erdoğan and Trump have a good rapport, even an apparent “political man crush on each other” as like-minded “strongmen presidents,” he noted. And Erdoğan expects Trump to ultimately “save the relationship,” such as when the U.S. president held back last summer on imposing congressionally mandated sanctions on Turkey over the NATO member’s purchase of a Russian missile-defense system.

“Erdoğan is betting on that once again: that Trump will prevent devastating sanctions against Turkey’s economy and military following the incursion,” said Cagaptay…

Thus far, … [new U.S.] sanctions extend to only three Turkish officials and the nation’s defense and energy ministries.

That probably explains Erdogan’s reversal on meeting Pence and Pompeo. He knows Trump doesn’t care what happens to the Kurds or whether Assad and Russia increase their hold on Syria as a result. He may not even care what happens to ISIS so long as the group doesn’t reconstitute itself before November 2020. But being personally rude to Trump’s handpicked envoys by refusing to hear them out might be an unpardonable affront. Better to maintain the “friendship” with Trump by being polite and then doing what you like, knowing that he’ll find excuses — “the Kurds are no angels” — to justify your actions for you.

Speaking of endless wars and political humiliation, here’s a pair of viral clips from Russian state TV that are making the rounds today. If the president were a Democrat, this sort of immediate bug-out under threat paired with the degree of callousness Trump’s showed the Kurds today would make this episode legendary in Republican media for a generation as proof of the essential cowardice and fickleness of left-wing foreign policy.

The post Erdogan says he won’t meet with visiting Pence and Pompeo — before changing his mind appeared first on Hot Air.

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U.S. Army officer: Turkish forces deliberately targeted us in northern Syria

Westlake Legal Group t-15 U.S. Army officer: Turkish forces deliberately targeted us in northern Syria US Turkey Trump troops The Blog Syria supply line Kurds erdogan atrocities

This isn’t even the grimmest news out of northern Syria today. Visit any news site this afternoon and you’re apt to find reports of a mass jailbreak at a prison where hundreds of ISIS sympathizers were detained or read accounts of Turkish-backed “militias” committing atrocities against captured Kurds. One particularly grisly story involves a Kurdish political leader named Hevrin Khalef. I’ll let you google her to find out what happened, but be warned before you click that there may be graphic photos at the link.

Newsweek reported on Friday that Turkish artillery shells had landed suspiciously close to a group of U.S. troops stationed near the town of Kobane. Why suspicious? Because, as a U.S. “ally,” Turkey had been told exactly where American troops are based in northern Syria. We want to avoid friendly-fire incidents so we give them our positions and tell them to steer clear.

So how’d a bunch of Turkish shells end up “bracketing” the American contingent in Kobane?

One Army officer who has deployed to northeastern Syria and has knowledge of the situation said that multiple rounds of 155 mm fire were launched from Turkey’s side of the border and that they had a “bracketing effect” in which shells landed on both sides of the U.S. outpost.

“That’s an area weapon,” the officer said, noting its explosive effects. “That’s not something we ever would have done to a partner force.”

The officer said Turkey knew there were Americans on the hill and that it had to be deliberate. The service members vacated the outpost after the incident but returned Saturday, according to a U.S. official and images circulating on social media.

“We had been there for months, and it is the most clearly defined position in that entire area,” the officer said.

The Americans stationed at the outpost surely would have recognized that they were being targeted, said Ruben Gallego, an Iraq war vet turned Democratic member of Congress. A U.S. defense official asked about the incident told WaPo that the Turkish shelling was certainly “reckless” and possibly intentional, and acknowledged that they “obviously” were told by the Pentagon beforehand that American soldiers were there. That’s not the only pressure the Turks are putting on U.S. troops in the region either:

U.S. troops pulled out from their base in the town [of Ain Issa], as Turkish-backed Syrian rebels consolidated their hold over a vital highway nearby, cutting the main U.S. supply route into Syria and isolating troops based further west

Turkish-backed rebels have set up checkpoints on the highway near Ain Issa, cutting off the U.S. troops in bases to the west, in the Syrian cities of Manbij and Kobane. Those troops came under Turkish artillery fire Friday night in what some U.S. soldiers suspect was a deliberate attempt to drive them away from the bulk of the U.S. forces farther east, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

So that explains the shelling. The Turks were deliberately trying to divide U.S. forces, increasing the pressure on Trump to flee the area before any Americans end up “accidentally” isolated and/or killed. Looks like the tactic worked: SecDef Mark Esper announced this morning that all 1,000 American troops based in northern Syria will be withdrawing, leaving the Turks free to pursue their goal of massacring the Kurds without having to worry about any U.S. soldiers wandering into the line of fire.

According to one Kurdish official, the ISIS flag has already been raised in the countryside between Ain Issa and the Turkish border. Jake Tapper puts it bluntly:

Esper acknowledged this morning that he’s also heard reports that Turkish forces or their proxies or both are committing war crimes. Fox News hears the same thing:

Trump’s response to all of this has been to anxiously tweet out every conceivably line of spin in quick succession and hope something sticks. There’s the “war is bad but at least our guys are safe” take:

There’s the “who cares?” take:

And there’s the “we might act if this keeps up” take:

If Obama had let Erdogan strong-arm him into handing over the Kurds to Turkey and then followed that up by ordering a full retreat after the Turks shelled American troops, citizen Trump would have tweeted that not only is he the weakest man we’ve ever had as president, he may be the weakest man the country’s ever produced. He’d already be accusing Obama — accurately — of having midwifed the rebirth of ISIS, with the U.S. destined to get sucked into another “endless war” a few years from now when American troops are needed to beat back ISIS’s newly expanding caliphate. The Kurds won’t be helping next time either; given the hard lesson they’re learning right now, their best bet after ISIS regroups will be to try to reach an accommodation with the jihadis. If the White House is worried about ISIS targeting the west, it’ll have to deal with the problem directly next time.

But that’s okay. Trump might be out of office by then. It’ll be the next president’s problem, with citizen Trump tweeting disingenuously from the sidelines that he had ISIS completely defeated until President Warren’s “weakness” allowed them to rebuild. Most of his fans will even believe it. Think of this as the foreign policy equivalent of one of his corporate bankruptcies: He tried something, it didn’t work out, and now a bunch of other people will be stuck cleaning it up. He’ll be fine.

Here he is on Friday being asked why, if he’s all about “ending endless wars,” he’s sending 1,800 American troops to Saudi Arabia while he retreats in Syria. Simple answer: Saudi Arabia is willing to cut us a check. If the Kurds want to make us an offer, maybe our mercenary army will reconsider its retreat. You know the Marine Corps motto: “How much?”

The post U.S. Army officer: Turkish forces deliberately targeted us in northern Syria appeared first on Hot Air.

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Question for Trump: Is Rudy Giuliani still your attorney?

Westlake Legal Group t-14 Question for Trump: Is Rudy Giuliani still your attorney? Ukraine Trump The Blog rudy parnas giuliani fruman attorney

Reporters were buzzing this afternoon about him answering “I don’t know” here, but watch the clip. I don’t think he means to imply that he’s weighing whether to cut Rudy loose. I think he means to say, “Why, do you people know something I don’t?” As if he’s been caught off-guard and wondering if Giuliani said something to the media about no longer being Trump’s attorney. Which he did not.

Are you still Trump’s lawyer? reporters asked Rudy afterward. Uh, yeah, Giuliani replied. Why wouldn’t I be?

The media invented a Trump/Rudy rift out of nothing, by aggressively misinterpreting Trump’s answer! Fake news!

Or is it?

As the career ambassador ousted by President Donald Trump was describing to lawmakers Friday the shadow diplomacy carried out by Rudy Giuliani, the President was across town beginning to doubt his attorney’s continued ability to defend him.

The skepticism, which is shared by many of Trump’s allies, comes after two of Giuliani’s clients were arrested boarding an international flight and charged for violating campaign finance laws.

As the drama unfolded on television — complete with scowling mug shots paired with photos of the two men posing alongside the President — Trump began expressing concerns about Giuliani’s involvement with the individuals, according to people familiar with the matter.

All I want from this season’s remaining episodes of “President Trump” is a plot arc where Trump and Rudy turn on each other.

Media-watchers have noticed a bit of skepticism about Giuliani creeping into pro-Trump media today. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post devoted its front page this morning to Rudy’s connections to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two men arrested yesterday by the FBI for campaign-finance crimes hours before they left the country. This exchange about Giuliani popped up today on Trump TV as well:

None of this is to suggest that Trump or the White House has instigated an anti-Rudy messaging campaign in Trump-friendly in order to gin up support on the right for throwing Giuliani under the bus. The message could be coming from the opposite direction, a communique from Murdoch World to Fox News’s most loyal viewer that he should maybe start thinking of shedding his Rudy baggage. Especially as House Democrats start sniffing around the question of who, exactly, is paying Rudy Giuliani for all of his Ukraine work.

Because TrumpWorld is a realm of total chaos at all times, Giuliani isn’t even the biggest personnel headache plaguing Trump’s legal allies today. Apparently Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova hate Trey Gowdy, who’s just joined the impeachment defense effort as outside counsel:

“Trey Gowdy doesn’t know s***,” she said…

“He screwed up the Benghazi hearings, and he came out with the advice to Trump, ‘Well, if you’ve done nothing wrong, just talk to Bob Mueller.’”…

“He’s not on the team. Trey Gowdy is not on the team. Who told you Trey Gowdy? Not to my knowledge, not to Rudy’s knowledge, not Joe’s knowledge,” said Toensing, who had not heard of the move at the time of her interview with Yahoo News on Wednesday morning. “I have to check that with Rudy because that would be a joke, because we all don’t think much of him,” she said of Gowdy, adding, “Are you kidding? … Trey is a joke among us.”

The joke’s on her: Trump himself ended up announcing that Gowdy is joining the team, albeit not until January. (Which is almost certainly after impeachment will have happened.) What the hell is Gowdy doing working on this matter anyway, though? He spent his last months in Congress giving mopey interviews about how sick he was of partisan politics and how eager he was to get back to trying cases as a prosecutor. Fast-forward nine months and he’s on Fox News every three days again and gearing up for the ultimate political clusterfark in impeachment.

In lieu of an exit question, here’s Trump fresh off announcing a tentative “phase one” trade deal with China declaring that Beijing’s dispute with Hong Kong is going to “take care of itself.” We’ve spent a lot of virtual ink this week goofing on the NBA’s social-justice warriors for looking the other way at Chinese oppression in the name of making a buck, but it’s abundantly clear that the White House will keep its own mouth shut if the ChiComs end up cracking down hard on Hong Kong. Especially if a trade deal to answer Trump’s economic prayers is in the process of being finalized and at risk of imploding if the U.S. says something “problematic” about democracy and human rights.

The post Question for Trump: Is Rudy Giuliani still your attorney? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump, Jr Does a Terrific Dunk on Hillary Clinton, And That May Not Be All She’s Facing

Westlake Legal Group donald-trump-jr-rally-aoc-sucks-SCREENSHOT Trump, Jr Does a Terrific Dunk on Hillary Clinton, And That May Not Be All She’s Facing Trump Hillary Clinton Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Featured Post donald trump jr donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception

Democrats have been trying to get President Donald Trump out of office pretty much since he was elected. They’ve never been able to accept that he won.

Because of that, the American people have had to deal with things like the Russia collusion hoax and the Mueller probe, and now the Ukraine effort. Thanks Democrats, for constantly being divisive because you didn’t get your own way.

Perhaps the best example of this is the 2016 candidate, Hillary Clinton herself.

She just hasn’t been able to deal with the loss and has been left to trying to poke at Trump on social media.

She tried this tweet attacking Trump which was completely lacking in self-awareness.

That didn’t go over well as she found out.

The best response was Donald Trump, Jr.

Some good follow-ups.

But there are a few investigations that Hillary Clinton should be thinking about.

Ukraine has just opened an investigation into Ukraine’s meddling in our election in 2016. According to reports, the Ukrainians said they did it to help Clinton and Politico has detailed some of the involvement of the Democrats working to help Hillary.

Congress has renewed their request for information from the DOJ that they asked for originally in July 2017 and have demanded to know the status of investigation into the meddling.

That letter also highlighted news reports that, during the 2016 presidential election, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and did so by “disseminat[ing] documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggest[ing] they were investigating the matter[.]”[2] Ukrainian officials also reportedly “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”[3]

At the center of this plan was Alexandra Chalupa, described by reports as a Ukrainian-American operative “who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee” and who reportedly met with Ukrainian officials during the presidential election for the express purpose of exposing alleged ties between then-candidate Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and Russia.[4] Politico also reported on a Financial Times story that quoted a Ukrainian legislator, Serhiy Leschenko, as saying that Trump’s candidacy caused “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a U.S. election.”[5]

There’s the DOJ itself, which has U.S. Attorney John Durham saying yes, indeed he is looking into Ukraine meddling in the election.

Finally, there’s the Russia probe investigation in which Clinton and the DNC paid Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie to get Russian dirt via Christopher Steele.

After three years of Democrats saying it’s collusion and a crime to get information from a foreign national, let’s lay it all out there, what was done. Thinking that Hillary is not going to look very good at the end of it.

The post Trump, Jr Does a Terrific Dunk on Hillary Clinton, And That May Not Be All She’s Facing appeared first on RedState.

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Whoa: Shepard Smith leaving Fox News

Westlake Legal Group ss Whoa: Shepard Smith leaving Fox News tv Trump The Blog Shepard Smith napolitano hannity fox news

A total bombshell. No reason is given in his statement for why he asked to be let out of his contract but it’s plain as day.

How sudden is this? So sudden that … today was his last day. The news broke during his final telecast. He’d been at Fox since the network began in 1996.

The important question now: Where can I pre-order the Shep tell-all?

Here’s his final sign-off:

How long can Chris Wallace hang on?

You all know the long-term background here. Shep is a man of the left and the most outspoken member of Fox’s news division, which grumbled in print repeatedly (and usually anonymously) during the Trump era that the State TV propagandizing on Trump’s behalf by the opinion division was making them look like a joke. Still, Fox execs seemed comfortable with that balance: Shep, Wallace, and Bret Baier gave the network the right to claim that its coverage of daily news was “fair and balanced.” Meanwhile, Hannity, Tucker, and Ingraham brought in the big ratings and big money with the nightly “Democratic villain du jour” programming. Even Shep’s news-hour editorializing against Trump kinda sorta worked for Fox. Anytime someone complained that the network was in the tank for the president, there was an easy reply. What about Shep?

Everyone was happy, or happy enough. Fox management, Shep, the primetime crew, all doing their own thing and making bank. But there was one very important person who wasn’t so happy.

I don’t think Trump’s antipathy bothered Shep. If anything, he likely treated it like a badge of honor. He was, however, clearly annoyed a few weeks ago when one of the president’s cronies, Joe diGenova, was allowed in primetime to denigrate a guest on Shep’s own show, Andrew Napolitano, as a “fool” for thinking Trump may have committed a crime in his phone call with Ukraine’s president. I wrote about that more than once that week. Shep complained about it on the air, then Tucker Carlson invited diGenova back and scoffed at Shep for being more partisan than Tucker himself is. What followed, according to Vanity Fair, may have been the final straw:

Seeking to quell the internecine strife before it carried into a third day, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace communicated to Smith this morning to stop attacking Carlson, a person briefed on the conversation said. “They said if he does it again, he’s off the air,” the source said. (Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti denied that management had any direct conversation with Smith).

Note the unusual qualifier in Fox’s denial to VF: There was no “direct” conversation with Shep about the matter. Anyway, if the Vanity Fair report is true, Smith might have figured that the rules of the game at Fox had changed. With the election approaching, he was no longer quite as free to do his own thing; he and his guests were now being mocked by the primetime hosts for their disloyalty to the king and, allegedly, Shep would no longer be permitted to defend himself. If Fox management is enabling a total Trumpist takeover of the network as the 2020 campaign heats up then Smith might as well cut the cord now.

How much of a secret was his departure? Here’s how Cavuto took the baton after Shep’s on-air farewell:

If you’re expecting to see Shep turn up on CNN or MSNBC next week, think again. Not the part about him working for one of those networks; that’s definitely going to happen. It just won’t be next week.

He’ll need the time off to work on that tell-all anyway. I assume there’s a non-disparagement clause in his contract too which will prevent him from going the Carl Cameron route with Fox, but who knows? Imagine tuning into Rachel Maddow’s show next week and there he is, ready to make the case at length that Fox primetime is gross.

Meanwhile, people are noting on social media that the Times reported yesterday that Bill Barr paid a visit to Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday of this week to discuss matters as yet unknown. I’m not so much of a Never Trumper that I believe the Attorney General of the United States was tasked with personally warning Fox’s head honcho that the programming had better take a rosier view of the president or else the DOJ might take an interest in his company. But I’ve spent enough time at the Trump circus these past two and a half years to make me more curious about what was said at that meeting after Smith’s departure than I was before.

There’s no word yet on who’ll replace him as the 3 p.m. anchor. The way Fox is going, I assume it’ll be Trump’s hand with a pair of eyes drawn on it like Senor Wences and “Johnny” with the president providing the audio out of frame. Exit question: “CNN Primetime News featuring Shepard Smith and Megyn Kelly.” Coming next year, maybe?

Update: Predictable. No one at Fox News has “bad ratings” and Trump knows it better than most.

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End endless wars? Trump to send 1,800 more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia after abandoning the Kurds

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And so the betrayal of the Kurds becomes a betrayal of Trump’s fans too. For days he hammered his stupid “end endless wars” talking point on Twitter to defend his decision to retreat from northern Syria before a Turkish onslaught against the Kurds. All I’m doing is keeping a campaign promise, he insisted. I told you on day one that I was going to get American troops out of harm’s way in the Middle East. We’ve spent too much blood and treasure policing these interminable regional conflicts. Pulling out of Syria in time for Erdogan to feed the Kurds into his meat grinder was just a way of putting America first.

There were problems with that argument. For starters, he wasn’t actually withdrawing any troops from Syria. He was moving troops stationed in the north to other parts of the country so that they weren’t in Turkey’s way. No one was coming home. Beyond that, there’s the small matter that he not only continues to support the interminable Saudi war on Yemen, he’s actually doing so over congressional objections. Twice now Congress has passed bills demanding that he end American assistance to the Saudis. Trump has vetoed those bills. Congress is making more of an effort to end U.S. involvement in one particular endless war in the Middle East than Trump is.

But for cripes sake, why would he make his stance on Turkey and the Kurds a matter of “ending endless wars” if he knew he was about to deploy more American troops to the region, specifically 1,800 more to Saudi Arabia? He didn’t have to. Like I said last night, he could have presented the Turkish offensive simply as a war between two allies which required the United States to remain studiously neutral. The Saudis, on the other hand, are pitted against Iran and its proxies, a more traditional conflict between a U.S. ally and a U.S. enemy. We can take sides in that one. Instead he invited all of his fans out on a limb in which the Kurdish betrayal was part of some master policy of extricating ourselves from the region’s problems, only to turn around and saw that limb off by deepening American involvement in the Saudis’ problems.

Stephen “redsteeze” Miller aptly calls this the “Shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single supporter” test. Trump’s treating his own fans as rubes in asking them to look at the Saudi deployment in the context of supposedly ending endless wars and think, “Yeah, this all makes sense.”

“Secretary Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman said in a statement Friday. “Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month.”

The US has increased the deployment of forces in the region by 14,000 since May

When the Pentagon announced additional deployments after the Saudi attack, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters that the US troops would be “defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense.”

Remember this dopey soundbite from a few days ago?

What heroic effort did our Saudi friends make at Normandy, apart from continuing business as usual in selling us oil, to justify 1,800 more American troops being sent there now?

The president grasps at whatever rationale is nearest at hand to defend his policies, never mind whether he’s likely to contradict them a day later. Jonathan Tobin hits at a fundamental contradiction of his Middle East policy, and at his foreign policy generally. On the one hand, Trump wants to intimidate America’s enemies into doing his bidding; on the other hand, he’s an isolationist at heart and repeatedly telegraphs his interest in withdrawing abroad, including from longtime bases in places like Japan and Germany. You can “end endless wars” by withdrawing from everywhere and accept the regional consequences from the likes of Iran and China, finding comfort in the fact that at least our boys aren’t in the middle of it. Or you can carry a big stick and keep troops stationed abroad knowing that that creates a risk of being sucked into a major war at a time and place not of your choosing. But pick one.

The problem for Trump is not his willingness to listen to his neo-isolationist instincts. Rather it is that his desire to extricate America from the Middle East cuts against three other key goals of his regional policy: Defeating ISIS, pressuring Iran and scrapping the nuclear deal it signed with the Obama administration, and maintaining strong support for the state of Israel. He couldn’t beat ISIS and seek to isolate Iran and bolster Israel against its enemies while withdrawing from the Middle East. He chose appearing to do the latter over doing the former, endangering the success of his pressure campaign against Iran and potentially giving ISIS the opening it needs to make a comeback in the process…

Seen in this light, the “Normandy Doctrine” is merely an excuse by which any friend of the United States — including the Kurds, who have, despite their small numbers and the danger they have faced, proven both faithful and useful to American regional interests — can be discarded on a whim. Far from an expression of nationalist self-interest, it is a pretext for withdrawal not so much from potential wars but from the policies that will do the most to prevent them. Much like Barack Obama’s ignominious retreats from Syria and Iraq, which Trump has correctly pegged as the primary reasons for the rise of ISIS, the president’s foolish decision to abandon the Kurds may set in motion a chain of events that will drag him or a successor back into war in the Middle East.

Precisely right about the “Normandy Doctrine.” We could justify backstabbing virtually any ally on grounds that “they didn’t help us during [insert previous conflict here].” Even the Brits could be theoretically betrayed for refusing to lend a hand in Vietnam — although that would be an awkward talking point for Trump since he didn’t lend a hand either. Remember, in his eagerness to exploit grievances, the president once reportedly reminded Justin Trudeau during a conversation about U.S. tariffs on Canada that troops from his country once burned down the White House. That’s Trump to the core: He’s never the aggressor, never in the wrong. There’s always some slight or supposed malfeasance by his critic, like the Kurds somehow not showing up for D-Day, to justify his own bad policy in terms of just desserts.

The UN Security Council held a meeting yesterday on Turkey’s assault on the Kurds, by the way. Six members joined together to condemn it. The United States wasn’t one of them.

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Protests Outside Trump Rally Turn Violent, Trump Supporter Attacked, Police Threatened, Have to Use Pepper Spray

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Screenshot from this video

President Donald Trump held a packed rally Thursday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota and enthusiastic supporters were out in force.

About 20,000 were in the building with more outside, with the line starting two days before, with Dan Nelson hoping to get a front-row seat. “My company went from stagnant to growing and from no bonus to bonus. With the tax cuts alone, my check has gone up. People are getting better raises than before,” Nelson explained.

The line was massive.

According to one supporter, it started at Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s office.

Trump touched on familiar themes, but also charged up the crowd to win Minnesota in 2020.

He also hit on Joe Biden in his speech, proposing a new t-shirt idea – Where’s Hunter? – a reference to Joe Biden’s son, the source of controversy over deals done in Ukraine and China while Biden was Vice President.

As electric as it was inside the building, outside the building it was chaotic, with protesters harassing the police, calling them “pigs” and trying to incite them. At least one officer reportedly had to use pepper spray on threatening people. They also burned MAGA hats. Multiple arrests were made.

They even attacked and chased one Trump supporter, after one person shouted, “There’s a Nazi!”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) was particularly disgusted by the display outside. He condemned the leftists trying to intimidate people.

From Fox News:

Civilians, he said, are “consistently being intimidated” and are being asked to “cower” to what he characterized as a “new, socialist regime.”

“This approach toward anarchy continues to run amok. We cannot afford that in the greatest democracy on Earth.”

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Ukraine President Sends Chill Through Democrats: We’re Ready to Investigate Meddling in 2016 US Election

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President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky likely made the Democrats and the Clinton team sweat today.

During a press event, Zelensky spoke about one of the things he discussed in the call he had with President Donald Trump that has caused so much attention in the United States.

Zelensky announced that they were “ready to investigate Ukraine’s alleged meddling” in the U.S. election in 2016, according to reporter Christopher Miller.

From Daily Wire:

Zelensky also addressed his new attorney general that will be heading up future investigations.

“This is a new, young team, we’ll have a new attorney general, an open, honest person, 100%. This is my man, I said. I meant it was a person from my team, not from the old attorney general’s,” he said.

Asked by Miller about Ukraine’s potential meddling in the next election, Zelensky told him, “I don’t want to interfere in any way in the U.S. elections and I will not be doing it… Elect your own president and do not interfere in the future elections of an independent Ukraine. With due respect for the United States and America’s policy, we are not serving the latter’s purpose, as we are an independent country. However, we do not want to lose our relations, we wish to strengthen them instead.”

Zelensky also once again confirmed that he did not even know about the U.S. withholding military aid until after the phone call with Trump, undermining the Democrats’ claim that Trump was using the aid as “pressure” to force Ukraine to “dig up dirt” on Joe Biden.

As Trump noted, Zelensky’s clear proclamation that he wasn’t pressured and didn’t know about any aid being withheld would settle the question of pressure or quid pro quo for anyone looking at the facts, but Democrats are more interested in trying to get Trump out than the facts.

But now Hillary Clinton and Democrats also need to be concerned about what the new investigation into 2016 meddling might reveal about Democrats involvement with the help of Ukraine.

Politico did a bang up report about the meddling and Democrats’ involvement:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

The New York Times did a report on how a Ukrainian court actually found there was meddling in our election during the campaign in 2016.

The Kiev District Administrative Court, in a statement issued Wednesday, said that Artem Sytnik, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the agency that had released information about the payments, had violated the law. The court’s statement said this violation “resulted in meddling in the electoral process of the United States in 2016 and damaged the national interests of Ukraine.”

Additionally, Glenn Beck released an audio, allegedly of Sytnik, admitting he helped Hillary Clinton during the election by releasing “black accounting records” to hurt Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign.

So there’s a lot to start with, far more than was ever found in the Russia probe. And because it’s in control of Ukraine, Democrats may not have the ability to stop the investigation or to quiet the information that’s bound to come out.

Get the popcorn ready…

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